My now ex-girlfriend moved into my house in WV in June 2013. We agreed to remodel the bathroom and have Bathfitters put in a tub/shower. We couldn't get financed through their lender so my now ex-girlfriend agreed to put the cost on her credit card. In Dec 2013 we had a falling out and she moved out. We are no longer together. She states I owe her the entire balance for this remodel. I have been paying her $100 per month since she moved out. We have no legal contract between us stating I have to repay the credit card. The credit card is soley in her name. Thank you.
Whenever someone improves or pays to improve the property of another on the express or implied promise that the money used to improve the property will be repaid, that triggers something called "equity".
Equity will impose certain relief: (1) a constructive trust; or (2) an equitable lien; or (3) require restitution in the form of relief such as (a) unjust enrichment or (b) quantum meruit.
Constructive trust would be out because that requires some fraud being perpetrated by someone against someone else. Its rather obvious that you did not defraud her out of the money. However, it triggers the possibility of her suing out an equitable lien and then obtaining an order foreclosing the lien.
The third option is either unjust enrichment or quantum meruit. Quantum meruit is out because its not the value of the improvements she wants back, its the money she put on her credit card to pay for the improvements. In other words, she didn't actually do the work, someone was paid to do it.
That leaves unjust enrichment. In an unjust enrichment scenario the courts through case law going back to ancient Roman times, created an implied contract. An implied contract means that someone implied that they would repay money that is either advanced on their behalf, or advanced on an implied promise to repay.
A simple answer here is not easy, but if my analysis comes up correctly, your ex could sue you for unjust enrichment and possibly impose an equitable lien or both.
My suggestion is that instead of paying her a drib and a drab at $1200 a year which may possibly take forever to pay back and cover all the interest she's paying on her credit card, that you repay the money.
After all, you got the bathroom. You got the house. She has nothing but credit card debt to show for this. The fact that you're dribbing and drabbing her at $100 a month will be strong evidence that you agreed to repay the entire debt.
This is a public forum. Any questions or answers published here should not be construed as the giving or receiving of legal advice or the formation of any attorney-client relationship. You should consult with a competent attorney in the jurisdiction where your legal issues are pending and get good, solid legal advice. This being a public forum, those answers you do read are merely given for informational purposes only.
It really depends on the circumstances. As my colleague stated, the fact that you've been paying her $100/month since the breakup makes it seem as though you had agreed to pay for at least 1/2 of the cost. Also, she only got to reap the benefits of the cost of the remodel for about 6 months. The answer to your question really depends upon the total amount she charged on her credit card, the total amount that you've paid her so far, and how a particular judge may feel about the situation if you don't pay her.
This is NOT legal advice. There is no attorney-client relationship formed by my response to your question. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of a local attorney with experience in the applicable area of law.
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